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Colorado Enterprise Fund gets $776,500 grant

The Colorado Enterprise Fund has received a $776,500 grant to support its small-business lending and technical assistance programs statewide.

Colorado Enterprise Fund is among seven Colorado Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Other recipients include Denver -based Mercy Loan Fund, Mile High Community Loan Fund and Triple Bottom Line Foundation, as well as Aurora-based Community Enterprises Development Services. Outside of Denver, First Nations Oweesta Corp. in Longmont and La Plata Homes Fund in Durango received awards.

“We are honored to receive this funding from the CDFI Fund again this year,” says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. “This award will expand our ability to finance businesses that create quality jobs, enhance long-term economic vitality and expand community prosperity to insure more residents benefit from Colorado’s robust economic growth.”

Certified as a CDFI in 1996, the Colorado Enterprise Fund received its first CDFI Fund award of $275,000 in 1997 to increase capital access for small-business owners across Colorado. Since then, Colorado Enterprise Fund has been awarded nearly $10 million to continue that work and expand its focus to increase access to healthy foods and serve more communities of color and businesses located in persistent poverty counties.

Rail~Volution conference will showcase Denver's transportation advances

Rail~Volution is coming to Denver Sept. 17-20.

The conference, hosted by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and local partners, focuses on building livable communities through transit and multimodal investments. National leaders, planners and advocates will examine and discuss all that the Denver region has accomplished since it last served as the host city for the gathering 17 years ago.

During 25 mobile workshops and more than 75 sessions over four days, leaders and practitioners from the fields of government, transit, real estate, business, finance, environment and advocacy will explore pertinent transit issues, opportunities and challenges common to the Rocky Mountain West.

“Denver has an extraordinary story to tell about how transit investments and cross-sector collaboration have changed the economic trajectory of the regions,” says Dan Bartholomay, CEO of Rail~Volution. “The Denver community found the right mix of investments that lead to truly livable places — places that take care to ensure affordability and access to jobs, good homes and healthy lifestyles. The Denver region’s integrated approach is exactly what other cities and regions are hoping to learn about at Rail~Volution.”

Featured speakers include Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit in Seattle; Phil Washington, CEO of L.A. Metro; Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer; Maurice Jones, president of Local Initiatives Support Corp. in New York; Christine Marquez-Hudson, president and CEO of The Denver Foundation; and John Martin, president and CEO of the Southeastern Institute of Research Inc. in Richmond, Va.

Nursing moms now have privacy at all downtown sports venues

Nursing moms now have a quiet place to breastfeed or pump at all of Denver’s downtown pro sports venues as a result of UCHealth’s partnerships with the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos. 

The new Mamava nursing suites are being installed in the main concourses at Coors Field and Sports Authority Field at Mile High. UCHealth's recent purchase and installation of the air-conditioned lactation suites makes Denver the first city in the country to offer nursing suites in all downtown professional sports venues. UCHealth also purchased and installed the lactation suite located in the concourse at Pepsi Center, home to the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.

“UCHealth’s commitment to improving lives extends beyond the doors of our hospitals and clinics,” says Manny Rodriguez, UCHealth chief marketing and experience officer. “our investment in nursing suites with our partners at all of Denver’s downtown professional sports venues makes it easier for nursing moms attending events — from games to concerts — to live extraordinary lives doing what they love, with their loved ones.”

The sports teams collaborated with UCHealth to provide the clean comfortable spaces to nurse in private. The lactation suite is a self-contained, mobile pod with comfortable benches, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked for privacy. The 4-foot by 8-foot pod is intended for individual use but has plenty of room for mothers with diaper bags, babies and other children in tow.

AAA moves to Tech Center; Green Solutions takes its space

AAA Colorado is relocating its corporate headquarters to the Denver Tech Center after the sale of its 63,335-square-foot office building at 4100 E. Arkansas to Denver-based Tributary Real Estate.

Tributary plans to renovate the building for The Green Solution’s (TGS) corporate office.

“At Tributary, we pride ourselves on achieving a high level of involvement in creating lasting partnerships with our clients, working closely with them to determine how our investment, development and brokerage services can be combined to support their business objectives,” says Ryan Arnold,  principal of the firm. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with TGS Management through several successful transactions over the past four years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship as TGS Management grows as an organization.”

TGS Management is a vertically integrated cannabis operations company that employs more than 660 people in cultivation, manufacturing, research and development and retail. About 125 employees will move into the new space on Arkansas.

“We’ve worked with Tributary for several years on our real estate,” says Kyle Speidell, co-founder of TGS Management. “Their commitment to understanding our short- and long-term goals and their ability to deliver solutions tailored to our unique needs has helped to propel our growth and expand our real estate holdings.”

The Green Solution currently owns 12 retail locations across Colorado and 300,000 square feet of cultivation facilities.

AAA moves to Tech Center; Green Solutions takes its space

AAA Colorado is relocating its corporate headquarters to the Denver Tech Center after the sale of its 63,335-square-foot office building at 4100 E. Arkansas to Denver-based Tributary Real Estate.

Tributary plans to renovate the building for The Green Solution’s (TGS) corporate office.

“At Tributary, we pride ourselves on achieving a high level of involvement in creating lasting partnerships with our clients, working closely with them to determine how our investment, development and brokerage services can be combined to support their business objectives,” says Ryan Arnold,  principal of the firm. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with TGS Management through several successful transactions over the past four years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship as TGS Management grows as an organization.”

TGS Management is a vertically integrated cannabis operations company that employs more than 660 people in cultivation, manufacturing, research and development and retail. About 125 employees will move into the new space on Arkansas.

“We’ve worked with Tributary for several years on our real estate,” says Kyle Speidell, co-founder of TGS Management. “Their commitment to understanding our short- and long-term goals and their ability to deliver solutions tailored to our unique needs has helped to propel our growth and expand our real estate holdings.”

The Green Solution currently owns 12 retail locations across Colorado and 300,000 square feet of cultivation facilities.

Interactive artwork unveiled at Levitt Pavilion

The latest addition to the city of Denver’s public art collection was dedicated July 20 as part of the grand opening celebration for the newly built Levitt Pavilion Denver at Ruby Hill Park.

“Sky Song” by Colorado artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf is a two-part interactive sculpture that blends light and sound through interaction with the viewer and even the sky above. 

Comprised of mirror-polished stainless steel, “Sky Song” invites viewers to create music by pressing any combination of 33 buttons on an eight-foot-tall sculpture on the plaza. The kiosk is linked to its companion piece 30 feet away on the building’s facade. During concerts at Levitt Pavilion, the interactive function transitions from sound to light. With 25 lights and bells, “Sky Song” is an engaging public artwork.

The Levitt Pavilion is programmed, managed and supported by Friends of Levitt Paviolion Denver, a local nonprofit dedicated to building community through music. 

Upcoming concerts include:
  • July 23: The Stone Foxes
  • Aug. 3: The Suffers
  • Aug. 4: John Fulbright
  • Aug. 5: The Reminders co-headline with Fed Rez
  • Aug. 6: Rocky Dawuni with the Bunny Gang
  • Aug. 9: Hippo Campus with Slow Caves and Corsicana
  • Aug. 10: The Dustbowl Revival with Charley Crockett
  • Aug. 13: The Band of Heathens with Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir
  • Aug. 17 The Haunted Windchimes and Edison
  • Aug. 18: My Body Sings Electric and Chemistry Club
  • Aug. 19: Smooth Hound Smith with Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends
  • Aug. 24: Gaby Moreno
  • Aug. 25: Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra with Fiesta Colorado Dance Company
  • Aug. 26: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
  • Aug. 27: New Breed Brass Band with Denver Municipal Band
  • Aug. 30: Ripe with Chris Daniels & the Kings with Freddi Gowdy
  • Aug. 31: Inspector with Izcalli
The public is invited to bring their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to the free concerts. There also will be a handful of ticketed shows featuring artists like UB40 and 311.

Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

Prime Health challenges entrepreneurs to innovate patient care, offers $150k in awards

The Prime Health Challenge is on for 2017. This year the Colorado Health Foundation is offering a total of $150,000 to early growth stage digital health and health tech entrepreneurs whose aim is to improving healthcare outcomes while reducing patient costs. The awards will help fund a pilot study with a Colorado healthcare company. It’s the fourth annual Prime Health Challenge. 

The Prime Health Challenge, which is open to companies nationwide, will help winners pilot their products or solutions with Colorado-based health care providers, payers or safety net institutions. After submitting their idea through the Valid Eval platform, subject matter experts will evaluate each proposal on its merits. The experts will provide feedback and will select a group of applicants to move forward in the challenge. 

The selected group will pitch their products at a Shark Tank-style event on Oct. 19. The winners chosen at the event will each receive a portion of the $150,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to help launch their pilots.

The challenge explains that interested companies must be launch-ready for a pilot. Companies can apply to the challenge through July 7 by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2017PHChallengeApps and paying a $99 application fee. 

Third annual Shed Summit to focus on “Water Is Your Business” takes place on June 29

As one of the nation’s major suppliers of water, Colorado’s watershed is critical to the country's infrastructure, and many are working to balance the needs of the state's residents. That’s where the third annual Shed Summit comes in.

The one day event, taking place at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ York Street location on June 29, will focus on the theme of “Water Is Your Business” and will cover a range of issues regarding the management of Colorado’s water, including the evolution of conservation and climate change under the Trump Administration, the importance of watershed health to recreation, and the role of agriculture in Colorado’s future.

This year the event is expected to bring more than 250 water utility executives, business leaders, conservation experts and others. With the 2017 theme, organizers, which include Denver Water, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Center for ReSource Conservation and more, are seeking to broaden the conversation about watershed management. “The goal is to bring local influence to global issues,” organizers say. They hope to introduce innovative ideas, and break down silos around water management.

The $50 event begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m., followed by a happy hour at 6 p.m. Tivoli Brewery will provide beer.

Explore LoDo app launches, shows Denver’s past and present

To help connect visitors and residents with Denver’s history as well as its current businesses and attractions the LoDo District recently introduced Explore LoDo. The new app shows off historical places in the heart of Denver and harnesses information from Historic Denver, Denver Public Library and other sources to give users updates on what’s going on in the neighborhood. 

“LoDo is a dynamic neighborhood with a unique blend of history and modernity,” said Leslie Sale, Executive Director of the LoDo District. “We have been able to protect this balance because of the work of historic preservationists and creative reuse strategies. This app will help locals and visitors discover, engage and connect with Lower Downtown Denver, as well as preserve its history and stories of yesteryear.”

The app, which was developed by Envie Media, uses beacons and geofencing to alert users to the history of more than 25 locations in LoDo when they’re nearby. The alert offers a short history of each location and includes historical pictures of the location and contemporary pictures of the location. Users can also share their pictures and stories of LoDo through the app. 

Explore LoDo also includes a directory of downtown’s businesses, including restaurants, places to go for entertainment, clothing stores and more. It also provides them with information about events taking place in LoDo.

The app is available for Apple devices and Android devices. People can check out the app at lodo.org/app.

Denver launches business accelerator for healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods

The Denver Office of Economic Development has partnered with The Unreasonable Institute to launch the Food Access Project  in underserved neighborhoods. The accelerator is offering a training and mentorship program to support 10 ventures to improve access to food in select low-income communities in Denver. 

“It’s exciting to be able to bring the city’s resources together with the ingenuity of entrepreneurs,” says Teju Ravilochan, CEO of The Unreasonable Institute. “This partnership combines the innovation of nimble startups with the systems-shifting capabilities of the city government, creating the potential to really make a lot of people’s lives better.” 

The program is focused on reducing food insecurity in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Westwood, Northeast Park Hill, Five Points, and other neighborhoods. Early stage ventures can apply to the Food Access Project through June 25.

“This is part of our proactive approach to building healthier communities throughout the city,” explains Amy Edinger, OED interim executive director. “By targeting entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits, we recognize that Denver has a broad talent pool of individuals that, with a little support and key introductions, can make a lasting difference in addressing food insecurity.”

The program will provide each of the participants with a five-day in-person bootcamp. The effort will also provide six months of support from mentors, financial modeling training from Unreasonable Financial Architects, access to investors, and a network of over 530 Unreasonable Institute ventures across the world.
 

Denver’s Magpie Supply among winners of $25k at 4th Go Code Colorado pitch competition

Magpie Supply was one of the three companies that won the annual Go Code Colorado pitch competition. The company, which shows historic farmers’ market prices to farmers to help them find new markets, won $25,000, as well as a trip to the AT&T Foundry and a opportunity to pitch at Techstars and Boomtown.

Like all Go Code Colorado participants, Magpie Supply harnessed the power of public data. In this case, the company mapped prices farmers were able to charge at farmers markets throughout Colorado. The company also plans to develop a feature to help small farmers combat the cost of transporting goods. 

“This idea is a spin-off from a business concept I worked on last year with a Go Code Colorado team,” explains Daniel Ritchie of Magpie Supply. “Our team has worked hard to identify the real needs and concerns for Colorado farmers to develop a truly valuable tool to get more produce to market.”

Magpie wasn’t the only winner at the competition this year. Judges selected three of the 10 finalists to win a $25,000 contract with the state. The other two winners were Drip, from Colorado Springs, and Hud Buddy, from Fort Collins. Drip is a tool that helps with water analysis, including well and water quality information and Hud Buddy allows for simplified noise analysis for HUD residential developments.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” says Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.” 

Denver Peak Academy’s employee program saves city $22.5M over 5 years

Called the “School of Innovation” by Fast Company Magazine, Denver Peak Academy has helped the city’s employees save the city $22.5 million over the past five years, and is on track to save it $5 million this year. The city said that for every $1 spent on the program, it’s saved the City and County of Denver $5.

The academy was launched in 2011 by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock during a budget shortfall. The academy has trained 6,500 employees and led to 2,300 employee-led innovations ranging from reducing the time it takes to obtain a business license to 20 minutes rather than two hours and cutting the time of a DMV visit to 20 minutes from the 80 minutes it previously could have taken. 

“Through innovative thinking, employees are now able to do more with less, while bettering our customer-experience,” Hancock says. “Peak has become a revered national model adopted by some of the largest municipalities in the country, and we look forward to continuing our forward progress here in Denver.” 

The academy is a four-and-a-half day curriculum that includes problem solving and behavioral economics allowing the voluntary attendees to examine inefficiencies and speed up work processes. Since the program launched it’s been adopted by over 150 cities across the country and globe. The academy said that includes Brussels, Belgium; Ottawa, Canada; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Kansas City and others.

“Denver Peak Academy provides employees with the tools to be a catalyst of positive transformation. As a result, our employees  continue to build Denver into the best city in the world,” says Denver Peak Academy’s Director Brian Elms. “We are excited and inspired that other cities are adopting Denver Peak Academy principles to empower their employees to improve their cities as well.”

Denver launches “Race to Raise,” chance for early-stage companies to win up to $100k

A new competition will help early-stage companies in Denver raise venture capital through its “Race to the Raise” pitch event on June 13. While the prize for the contest is only $25,000, there’s an additional $75,000 at stake in the future, meaning the winner could ultimately net $100,00 in venture capital from the Denver Venture Showcase, part of the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED).

“There is no shortage of early-stage firms that are doing great things in Denver,” says Mayor Michael Hancock. “We’re committed to doing all we can as a city to spotlight these firms, foster additional growth and investment, and propel our culture of innovation to an even higher level.” 

Indeed, the city and OED offer a myriad of events and opportunities throughout the year to support the industry of nascent companies. Chief among them are the Commons on Champa and Denver Startup Week

The OED is offering the contest to early-stage companies that have raised at least $250,000, but less than $4 million. In addition to the grand prize, two runners up will each receive $15,000.

Whichever company is the first to raise an an additional $500,000 in equity or convertible debt within six months, will receive a $75,000 boost from OED, the office says.

“We’re tremendously excited to send the winning firm to the Colorado Venture Summit,” explains Turid Nagel-Casebolt, director of business development at OED. “With investors from around the nation, the Summit offers incredible potential for a growing firm to land a significant amount of operating capital. This could truly be a quantum boost for a small firm that is just beginning to learn how to present itself, demonstrate promise, and raise funding.”

In addition to raising the required capital, the entrepreneurs must demonstrate that they have developed a growth and job creation plan to help grow Denver’s economy. Companies can apply to participate in the competition through June 2 via this link

They will be judged by local startup experts and scored by Denver-based Valid Evaluation’s evidence-based platform. The judges will select finalists to compete at the June 13 event which is being hosted at Holland & Hart, a co-sponsor along with US Bank. They will have five minutes to pitch their company to the judges.
 

Who is the best CEO in Denver? Here's one pick.

The best-rated CEO of a public company in the US is Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco. The best-rated CEO in Denver, however, scoring higher than Jelinek is Convercent’s Patrick Quinlan, according to Owler's inaugural Top-Rated CEO Rankings. The rankings are based on more than 250,000 insights gleaned from members of the crowdsourced business intelligence platform. 

“Owler’s first annual list of top-rated CEOs is the only official ranking that provides a true market view of America’s best-loved leaders,” contends Jim Fowler, founder & CEO, Owler. “These executives received high approval ratings from employees, suppliers, partners, and even competitors, to beat out 99.4 percent of other CEOs featured on our platform. They truly are the best of the best in the global marketplace.” 

While CEOs of numerous private companies scored as high as 99.9 on the points system, Jelinek accumulated a rating of 94.9 points, according to Owler. Quinlan, CEO of Convercent, an enterprise compliance management and analytics software firm, outscored Jelinek with 96.1 points out of 100 possible. Other high-ranked CEOs in Denver were Ombud’s Thad Eby who scored 94.3 points; and Cloud Elements’ Mark Geene, who scored 93.3 points, and Ping’s Andre Durand who scored 92.5 points.

The rankings include all CEOs across 50 cities covering 25 industries, according to Owler. In order for CEOs to receive a ranking they must have at least 10 ratings. Owler asked employees, followers, competitors, and other general users to rate CEOs. Ultimately the company says it analyzed approval ratings of the top 5,000 most-rated chief executives. 

This gives the company more insight into how company leaders are seen in a region. For instance, Owler notes that Denver’s CEOs had an average score of 65.5 points. As such Denver struggled to make it into Owler’s Top 30 Cities list, coming in at number 27. Owler says that suggests Denver’s business leaders aren’t as well-liked as in other cities, like Nashville, where CEOs had an average approval score of 82.4 points. 

Results for Denver’s CEOs can be found here: https://www.owler.com/ceo-ratings.htm?cityName=Denver
 
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